Holding my breath, I cautiously pulled one end of the shop vac hose out of a hole in the inverted kitchen garbage bag with my left hand, keeping the other end over the exhaust pipe of the running car with my right. As the bag deflated, I peered through the hole down into the bucket below.
It can’t be! It’s been five full minutes and she’s just looking up at me, head cocked to one side, blinking her eyes as if to say, “WHAT are you DOING?”
I am not accustomed to euthanizing our pets, although I flushed a very tiny, almost dead frog three years ago. Now, our beloved bearded dragon, Dina, at almost eleven, was at the end, or so I thought. I expressed my angst to a close friend.
“She won’t eat- she won’t drink-she won’t even move anymore- but she won’t go. Every day we’re sure that she’s died. We look and look, and then, she breathes! This has been going for six weeks-no exaggeration. I wish there were a painless way to let her go.”
I realize that to some, lying in your favorite basking spot with a houseful of people coaxing you to try to eat and drink may not seem so awful! But it must be understood that Dina was used to much attention and pampering. She spent many evenings snuggled up (yes, you can snuggle with a reptile!) on someone‘s lap. To see her simply “hanging on” was heartbreaking.
So…when my friend answered my lament with… “Do you really want to know how? Because I can tell you. It’s absolutely painless; within seconds she’ll be sleeping, and in minutes it will all be over,” I listened eagerly.
I should tell you that I prayed fervently about this, sending up many prayers for wisdom and strength. The answer that came down to me was a resounding, “NO!” but I didn’t listen.
The first day I woke determined that “this is the day,” it was just too freezing outside. Dina would probably die cold and afraid-no good.
The next time, and my daughter called from school. She was sick and needed me to come get her.
The third morning I thought, Enough, I can’t take it if these kids come home one more day and ask if she’s still breathing. My mouth fell open when I opened my Bible to Proverbs 24 to read:
“Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.” ( Proverbs 24:11, NIV) OK, Lord, I get it! Not today either!
Now, several days later, I peered down into the bucket to see her brown and gold flecked eyes blinking back at me, and told myself, No, this ends right now.
Placing the hose back through the hole, I noticed my head was pounding. Great, my husband will come home to find me face down in the driveway, Dina standing on my back looking up saying, “Anyone else want to mess with the lizard?”
Waiting another ten minutes, I dared to gaze down once more. My heart fell and my eyes filled with tears. Dina lay belly-side up, her eyes closed, her color completely gone. Turning the car off, and rubbing my throbbing head, I carried her inside.
Tears fell as I placed her in the container the kids prepared with their good-bye messages written on the outside, and a soft doll blanket on the inside. I wrapped the blanket gently around her, kissed her head, and said my own good-byes.
I left to run several errands, returning home about two hours later. Unable to help myself, I slowly unfolded the blanket to see her one more time. When my eyes fell down upon her, I screamed and almost jumped out of my skin! There she was, color back, staring up at me with a really mad look, like, “WHAT was THAT all about?”
Feeling absolutely horrible, I gave her a bath (her favorite thing), tried to get her to eat or drink something, which she refused, put her back down in her tank, and gave up.
One week to the day, Dina is still hanging out in her cozy basking spot, refusing to eat or drink. Truly, God only knows how she is still with us, but I learned that when He says, “Not Yet,” even carbon monoxide won’t put anything down. He will continue to raise it up until HE determines it is indeed, time.
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